Common MS Treatments

shutterstock_85771600Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating disease that affects millions of people worldwide each year. It affects the central nervous system, particularly the nerve cells and their ability to transmit signals from the other parts of the body to the brain. It is mainly caused by the damaged myelin sheath, which acts as the insulating material on the nerve fibers. Experts say that this happens in MS when the body’s own immune cells begin to attack the myelin, thinking that it is a foreign body that needs to be removed. As a result, patients with MS begin to feel a number of symptoms including muscle spasm and numbness, blurring vision, pain, speech problems and many more.

Unfortunately, for many MS sufferers, the disease remains incurable. Scientists have not yet found a cure for multiple sclerosis. However, there are treatments and therapies available that can help alleviate the symptoms and help people cope up with the disease. Here are some of them.

Cognitive Therapy

With lesions in the brain accumulating in MS, it can affect a person’s cognitive ability over time. Medical treatments using drug cannot seem to help treat this aspect of the disease. A study has shown that rehabilitating the brain such as conducting memory exercises can help enhance brain activation as well as behavioral improvements in people with MS.

Immune Modulating Drugs

Teriflunomide drug is the latest addition in the various other MS drugs now approved for use in treating the disease. Taken once a day, this drug works by targeting the immune system to slow down the progression of the disease. It belongs in the list of other immune-modulating drugs now in use for MS treatment.

Another example of such a drug is fingolimod, which can have an effect into the disease process of MS and not just alleviate the symptoms. This pill, taken once a day, can help reduce annual MS relapse risk by more than half. But people need to consult with doctors before taking these medications because they come with certain side effects. Fingolimod for example, can slow down the heart rate. Patients taking the drug may need their heart checked first and monitored even after taking the drug.

Interferon Treatment

Interferons are produced by the immune system. Its primary function is to dampen an overactive immune system. This is why it is useful in treating multiple sclerosis. Interferon treatment is usually administered via injection, with different interferon drugs used to treat MS dosed differently and administered at different time intervals. Patients who are taking the treatment may also need their blood monitored carefully for possible liver problems.

Copaxone Treatment

This drug works similar to interferons but does cause flu-like symptoms usually associated with the said family of drugs. Copaxone is also administered through a subcutaneous injection and does not have an effect on white blood cell count or liver function. For people who might find it inconvenient to have their blood drawn for checking and monitoring often, copaxone is used instead of interferon treatments.

Natalizumab Treatment

Natalizumab is known as one of the most effective treatments for MS available today. This drug is also used to treat the disease via an intravenous infusion once every four weeks. It is known to help reduce annual MS relapse rates by 67 percent. Those taking this treatment may also need to have their blood monitored carefully since the drug is known to increase the risk of PML or progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, which is a serious brain infection.

Dalfampridine

This drug does not affect the disease process. But it does help people increase their walking speed. This drug is administered as a pill two times a day. It is given to patients who have walking problems as a resulting symptom of the disease. The said drug is not that readily available as it is only carried by specialty pharmacies.

 
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